Ciao tuttiHi cialuzzo,
"stillarsi il cervello" means "to rack one's brain" or "to puzzle one's brain".
Dear AlYou need an infinitive after "she racked her brain" as in "she racked her brain to come up with an answer."
If she puzzled, it must be over something.
Without a task to be completed, I think "her brain turned to mush" is better. Is there any more to the sentence? I don't think you can just say "she racked her brain" period. Nor can you say "she puzzled" period.
it would be good if you let us know what the context is. Is it a novel? What "si stillava il cervello" for? Can you give the sentences before and after that one? What do you mean by "sfacelo nervoso"?
Cara Mary49All right, I'm not an English speaker so I "bow" to you; anyway, Italian is sometimes simpler , we can say "Si scervellava" or "Si lambiccava il cervello" without specifying why or on what someone is "racking his/her brain".
I would say it means a "nervous fit", if such a term is appropriate for a novel written in 1880. Nowadays we might call it a panic attack or an anxiety attack.However at the risk of being importunate, what is the meaning of "accesso nervoso", as it is being used here.
Salve ChipHi Cialuzzo,
si stillava il cervello is very rare in Italian, out of literary style. Much more common is si lambiccava il cervello as Mary said, and I assume that it has the same meaning, though I've never seen that expression in practice. If so, it means she was thinking very hard and the most close expression I can think of in English, with the same strenght is she was squeezing her brain juice, or simply, a bit milder, she was squeezing her brain.
The direct translation in English would be she was distilling her brain which is obviousluy non-existent, unless some Frankenstein b-movie
Hi Cialuzzo, please do not consider me as a reliable source for British English! I've only beem living part time in England since 2009 and I'm certainly no authority... I did hear in some occasion squeezing one's brain juice but I can't tell the source nor its reliability It is just that the image got stuck in my mind...Salve Chip
Thank you for the suggestions. I never realized that British english was so different from American english. Squeezing her brain juice or just squeezing her brain would never be said in American english, however the image has, I think, more merit then "she racked her brain". In any case, whatever phrase is appropriate it would have to be expressed in the passive, as is the italian phrase "si stillava il cervello". An American equivalent to yours suggestion might be: She felt her mind was in a vise.
Thank you for your help, Cialuzzo